President Peter Mutharika’s opening address to the 47th Session of Parliament delivered on Friday came under scrutiny yesterday with main opposition parties describing it as mis-titled and full of broken promises.
The President titled his address Rising Above Macroeconomic Stability and outlined a number of things he said his administration has achieved since assuming power following the victory in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
But in their responses in Parliament in Lilongwe yesterday, opposition People’s Party (PP) leader in the House Ralph Mhone and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera—who is also leader of opposition in Parliament—said the Mutharika administration has failed to fulfil the promises made during the 2014 elections campaign trail and in his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manifesto.
However, the sentiments did not go down well with the government side in the National Assembly with government chief whip Henry Mussa describing Chakwera’s speech as “full of hate” and containing some “unparliamentary” words.
Mussa, who is also Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, asked the Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya to rule the words as out of order.
But the Speaker, who is Chakwera’s first vice-president in MCP, said he needed to consult with Parliament secretariat to ascertain if Chakwera’s speech could really be termed as “unparliamentary”.
Immediately he started delivering his response, Chakwera was interrupted by about two minutes of power outage.
The leader of opposition in Parliament later told The Nation in an interview that the blackout was an indication that the country is failing to deliver, adding that power outages have left many people and businesses suffering.
When power was restored, Chakwera proceeded with his speech, outlining the areas the Mutharika administration has failed. He said the failure was in four areas, including fighting corruption, failing to deliver and not fulfilling promises.
He said instead of addressing the frustration and outcry of Malawians, the President chose to proclaim an “imaginary litany of accomplishments that do not hold up under the scrutiny of basic and well-established facts”.
Said Chakwera: “His [the President’s] speech, mistitled Rising Above Macroeconomic Stability, will go down in our nation’s history as the latest in a series of missed opportunities to directly and honestly address the deepening plight and delayed aspirations of Malawians.
“And as I said, ignorance of a problem that is a matter of fact may be forgiven, but ignoring the problem you know is there cannot.”
He said the President cannot be trusted because all the promises he made have been broken—from the Electoral Reforms Bill to abolishing of the coupon system for redeeming inputs under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) and subsidised cement and iron sheets, among others.
In his response, Mhone also said the title of the speech was indeed mis-representing the situation on the ground.
He said Mutharika focused on schooling legislators on what to do instead of giving Malawians what they expected.
Said Mhone: “Mr. Speaker, Sir, the President decided to crown his speech with a misplaced economic title Rising Above Macroeconomic Stability.
“We are saying the title is misplaced because our economy is yet to attain stability.”
He added that the President cited the decline in inflation and interest rates as an indication of economic stability, but failed to mention the real GDP (growth domestic product) growth in the past two years which on average were below 2.5 percent.
According to Mhone, Mutharika only cited a projection of 5.5 percent, whose realisation has already been threatened by the unprecedented power shortages and low farm produce prices.
Both parties have, therefore, said it is good for the President and the leadership to find new ways of improving the country’s economy as the current interventions have failed the country. n